Joe Lhota

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Joe Lhota
Lhota 2013 Mayoral Race Campaign portrait
Born Joseph J. Lhota
(1954-10-07) October 7, 1954 (age 61)
Bronx, New York, United States
Nationality American
Ethnicity Czech, Jewish,[1] Italian
Education Georgetown University
Harvard Business School
Known for Handling the MTA (New York City's transportation system) following Superstorm Sandy
Serving as deputy mayor for operations for Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Republican candidate for New York City Mayor 2013
Predecessor Jay Walder
Successor Fernando Ferrer (acting)
Political party Republican Party
Religion Christian[2]

Joseph J. "Joe" Lhota /ˈltə/ (born October 7, 1954) is an American politician and businessman, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a former deputy mayor of New York City. He was the Republican nominee in an unsuccessful bid for the 2013 election for Mayor of New York City. As of 2016, he is senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Early life and education[edit]

Joe Lhota was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Jackie and Joseph "Joe" Lhota, a New York City police officer.[3] His paternal grandfather was a New York City firefighter, and his maternal grandfather was a New York City taxi driver. His father’s family is Czech. His maternal grandfather was of Italian descent and his maternal grandmother was Jewish.[4] Lhota was raised Catholic, and self-identifies as a Christian, although he is considered Jewish according to Jewish law.[2] The family later moved to Lindenhurst.[4] He was the first member of his family to attend college, graduating with honors from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business with a degree in business administration in 1976. He received an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1980.[5]

Business career[edit]

Upon graduating from Harvard, Lhota returned to New York City and began a fourteen-year career as an investment banker at First Boston and Paine Webber. He specialized in public finance, serving state and local governments throughout the United States.

In 2002, Lhota became executive vice president of Cablevision, as well as president of Lightpath, a fiber-based telecommunications company that offered telephone and high speed data services to businesses throughout the New York area. In 2010, he joined The Madison Square Garden Company as executive vice president as a member of the senior management team and chief administrative officer.[6]

Joseph Lhota in January 2015

In early 2014, after his mayoral run, Lhota was appointed as senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center, in charge of "government outreach", emergency preparedness, and business planning.[7][8]

Political career[edit]

Giuliani administration[edit]

In 1994, Lhota joined the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, where he held several positions over Giuliani's two terms. He first served as chief of staff to the deputy mayor for finance and economic development[9] and that year was quickly promoted to New York City finance commissioner.[10] In 1995, he was selected as director of the office of management and budget.[11] In 1998, Giuliani appointed Lhota to deputy mayor for operations.[12] As the head of the mayor's rat abatement task force, he was humorously known as "the Rat Czar".[13]

Lhota served as Mayor Giuliani's liaison to the White House, United States Congress, governor of New York, New York State Legislature and New York City Council. Additionally, he was responsible for oversight of the city’s relationships with the public employee unions and development of collective bargaining agreement strategies.

Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority[edit]

On October 20, 2011, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated Lhota to serve as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority,[14] the largest mass transit provider in the United States (servicing 8.5 million customers daily). While awaiting confirmation by the New York State Senate, Lhota began serving as interim CEO.[15] He was unanimously confirmed on Jan 9, 2012.[16]

MTA Chair Joe Lhota speaks with transit workers during Sandy recovery efforts at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal
Lhota giving a press briefing at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel with Governor Cuomo and Albany leaders.

Lhota was responsible for New York City Transit’s Fastrack program, which saw more than $16 million in productivity gains in 2012, by concentrating and targeting subway station maintenance efforts. In July 2012, Lhota announced a $30 million service enhancement package that restored transportation services that the MTA had previously eliminated in 2010, and added new transit services in underserved areas, including Williamsburg, the South Bronx and Brooklyn Navy Yard—all New York City neighborhoods that had seen significant residential and commercial development since 2005. Lhota headed efforts to make information about the MTA and its services more accessible to its customers through its website and apps. He granted pay raises to managers at the MTA.[17]

When Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, Lhota shut down the MTA in advance of the storm and moved the system's trains to high ground to avoid damage from the storm surge. His other notable hurricane recovery measure was the rapid deployment of a free Rockaway Park Shuttle to service the worst damaged line in Rockaway, Queens.[18] Lhota also directed the MTA to provide regular details and updates to the public on the recovery efforts via social media and local news channels.[18]

Mayoral candidacy[edit]

Oct. 9, 2013. Lhota preparing to march at a School Choice rally across the Brooklyn Bridge along with over 17,000 parents from low-income neighborhoods who have children in publicly co-located charter schools.
Lhota's campaign outreaches to New York City's Indian immigrant community

Lhota resigned as head of the MTA on December 31, 2012, to explore running for mayor of New York City.[19] On January 17, 2013, he filed paperwork with the New York City Board of Elections and the New York State Board of Elections to formally launch his mayoral campaign.[20]

Lhota won the endorsements of all three major daily New York City newspapers for the Republican primary, with The New York Times stating, "few people know better than Mr. Lhota how city government works."[21] He won the primary on September 10, 2013 with 52.5% of the vote, defeating John Catsimatidis, who garnered 40.7%, and George T. McDonald, who captured 6.8%.[22]

In the general election campaign, Lhota received the endorsements of Crain's New York Business, [23] AM New York,[24] Newsday,[25] The Jewish Voice, [26] and The New York Post.[27]

Lhota's economic plan focused on job creation primarily through municipal tax cuts. He said he wanted to lower the General Corporation Tax, phase out the Commercial Rent Tax, reform the Unincorporated Business Tax, and lower the hotel tax.[28] He proposed to cut the hotel occupancy tax to 5% from 5.85%, and to lower property taxes.[29]

Lhota also proposed a tax incentive program to allow private sector developers to build mixed-use housing to incorporate affordable units.[30] He planned to improve education in New York City by doubling the number of public charter schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. He participated in a School Choice Rally organized by Success Academy Charter Schools to protest Democratic candidate Bill De Blasio's proposed rent requirement for the city's charter schools that were operating in public school buildings and ban on further co-location in public school buildings.[31] He also proposed universal pre-kindergarten without raising taxes.[citation needed]

Lhota lost the general election to de Blasio,[32] garnering 249,121 votes, or 24.3% of the voter turnout.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Lhota is married to Tamra Roberts Lhota. The couple met while she was working in Washington, D.C.[34] They have one child.[35]

While he was raised Catholic and identifies as Christian, Lhota's maternal grandmother was Jewish. When asked why he didn't capitalize on his religious heritage to garner the city's Jewish voters, he responded, "I think that would be patronizing."[36]

Political beliefs[edit]

Lhota defended his support for pro-choice and marriage equality as not only being in sync with New York City's socially liberal outlook but consistent with Jeffersonian republicanism or democracy and its intellectual premise in classical liberalism. His accommodation of fiscal conservatism and socially progressive views were criticized by some local social conservative groups while independents applauded his position as an example of third-way politics.[37] Lhota called for expulsion of Donald J. Trump from the Republican Party after Trump's remarks about banning Muslims from entering the US.[38]


  1. ^ Zak, Irina (September 13, 2013). "The Players - An Election Round Up". Jewish Voice. New York, N.Y. 
  2. ^ a b Kornbluh, Jacob (May 28, 2013). "Exclusive: Joe 'Yoely' Lhota on his Relationship With the Jews". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  3. ^ "The Yeshiva World Joe Lhota Winner of NYC Republican Mayoral Primary". 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  4. ^ a b Adams, Cindy (February 5, 2013). "Who Is This Joe Lhota, Anyway?". New York Post. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  5. ^ Patzer, Meghan (February 5, 2013). "Alumnus to Run for NYC Mayor". The Hoya. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Madison Square Garden Strengthens Senior Management Team (NASDAQ:MSG)". Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  7. ^ Dawsey, Josh; Fleisher, Lisa (January 3, 2014). "NYU Langone Hires Lhota". Wall Street Journal Metropolis blog. 
  8. ^ Nahmias, Laura (January 3, 2014). "Lhota Replaces Shorris at NYU Langone". Capital New York. 
  9. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. (March 8, 1994). "Head of Transit Authority Opposes Merger for Police". New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "New York Suspends Its Financial Adviser". New York Times. July 1, 1995. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  11. ^ Meyers, Steven Lee (November 30, 1995). "New Budget Director Named, Giuliani's Third in Two Years". New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  12. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (July 3, 1998). "Mayor Promotes Budget Director To Deputy Mayor for Operations". New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  13. ^ Lueck, Thomas J. (14 September 2000). "The War on Vermin Escalates Into a Duel of Rodent Warriors". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces MTA and Transportation Appointments | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo". 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  15. ^ "MTA News | MTA". Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  16. ^ "Joe Lhota Approved as New MTA Chairman". 2013-07-01. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  17. ^ Donohue, Pete (February 5, 2013). "Ex-MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota Grants Retroactive Payraises and Payouts Worth $253,000 to 3 Top Agency Presidents and Former Exec". Daily News. New York. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Flegenheimer, Matt (November 19, 2012). "Free Subway Shuttle Starting for Part of Rockaway Peninsula". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ Lovett, Kenneth; Donohue, Pete; Katz, Celeste; Otis, Ginger Adams (December 18, 2012). "Joe Lhota, In Possible Push in Mayoral Race, to Resign as MTA Chairman". Daily News. New York. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  20. ^ Peltz, Jennifer. "Ex-MTA Chief Lhota Files Papers for Mayoral Run". Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  21. ^ "For New York Mayor". The New York Times. August 24, 2013. 
  22. ^ Orden, Erica (September 10, 2013). "Lhota Wins Republican Primary for Mayor". The Wall Street Journal. 
  23. ^ "Joe Lhota for Mayor - Boiling Down The Two Mayoral Candidates to Their Basic Experience and Skill Makes Our Choice Clear". Crain's New York Business. October 18, 2013. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Elect Joe Lhota mayor of New York". Newsday. October 28, 2013. 
  26. ^ JV Staff (October 31, 2013). "Vote for the Most Qualified Candidates on November 5! The Jewish Voice Endorses The Following:". Jewish Voice. New York, N.Y. 
  27. ^ "Joe Lhota for New York City Mayor". New York Post. November 4, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Republican Mayoral Candidate Joe Lhota Vows to Cut Taxes on Business, Properties, and Hotel Stays". Daily News. New York. 
  29. ^ Meriwether, Kristen (September 27, 2013). "Joe Lhota's Jobs Plan Heavy on Tax Reduction". Epoch Times. 
  30. ^ Lee, Kristen A. (July 25, 2013). "Chat With NYC Mayoral Candidate Joe Lhota". Daily News. New York. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Fermino, Jennifer; Karni, Annie; Siemaszko, Corky (November 5, 2013). "Bill de Blasio Elected Mayor of New York City". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  33. ^ "New York City Mayor - 2013 Election Results". The New York Times. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ Barbaro, Michael; Flegenheimer, Matt (January 17, 2013). "Outsize Personality Joins, and Jostles, Mayor's Race". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  36. ^ Hartmann, Margaret (September 23, 2013). "18 Fun and Utterly Fascinating Facts About Joe Lhota". New York Magazine. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  37. ^ DeFalco, Beth (August 27, 2013). "Not Your Average Republican: Joe Lhota Favors 'Fiscal Discipline' – As Well As Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage and Pot Legalization". New York Post. 
  38. ^ Campanile, Carl (10 December 2015). "Manhattan GOP Leader Rejects Calls to Boot Trump from Party". New York Post. Retrieved 11 December 2015. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jay Walder
Chairman & CEO of the MTA
Succeeded by
Fernando Ferrer (acting)